Jas 2:18-20 “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
Brothers and sisters, as you consider these scriptures, keep in mind that James’ audience has not changed. The same people he called beloved brethren in verse fourteen are the very same people he refers to as being vain in verse twenty. This admonishment about faith and works is not written to those who have not been born of the Spirit of God. This is instruction to and for the children of the Living God.
We sometimes seek to justify our lack of doing in God’s kingdom here by falling back on our belief. We readily testify (say) that we believe God created the earth and all its inhabitants. We believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. We believe that regeneration comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the church is the Bride of Christ. While all this belief is good, what are we doing with our belief?
James is basically saying “You can say that your faith without works has as much worth as my faith with works.” However, there is a rather large flaw with this line of thinking. He then challenges us to show (prove) our faith without works. Any assertion we make, without being able to offer tangible proof, is empty to those that hear it regardless of how true it may be. The tangible proof of our faith is our works.
Our belief in the one true and living God is a good thing. It is also an empty thing if we are never seen doing His will. We cannot live a life of defeat and fear yet expect men to believe our testimony that we are more than conquerors through Him that loves us (Rom 8:37). We cannot spend all of our energy chasing after the goods of this world and expect men to believe that we esteem His words more than our necessary food (Job 23:12). We cannot expect men to believe that we love the Bride of Christ when we treat the church as an “I can take it or leave it” convenience in our life (Psa 111:1).
James, very bluntly, confronts us with a hard truth about faith without works. We do well to believe in the One God, but even the devils can lay claim to that. More than that, this belief the devils have causes them to tremble. However much the devils of this life may like to torment us, they stand in awe of our God. They do not serve Him or seek to do His will, but they firmly and truly believe. How are we going to prove that our belief in God is better than the belief of devils?
We must understand absolutely (see Strong’s definition of the word rendered as “know”) that faith without works is dead. Who of us would want to carry something around with us every day that was dead? It would pose a great risk to our health and cause others to avoid us. The scripture is telling us that holding on to a faith without works is going to affect our spiritual health. If we have no works with our faith then we cannot fulfill Jesus’ instruction to let our light so shine before me that they may see our good works and glorify our Heavenly Father (Mat 5:16).
May the Holy Ghost convict us that faith without works is dead so that we may show our faith by our works!